Clockwise from top: The Fairground; Lexi PEARL on stilts; Topanga Peace Alliance Float; Meeting of the Minds (Peter Alsop as Uncle Sam with the British Consort to the Queen); Captain Morgan and his Pirate ship; TECS Butterfly Float.
The first hint was the signs were back! After two COVID years, like mushrooms springing up overnight, those familiar, handmade signs, the Cowboy, the drum- playing Raccoon, and even a new Unicorn dotted the Boulevard proclaiming the return of Topanga Days! Special thanks and awe to the talented, longtime Topanga volunteer and past Parade Marshal Randy Just, for being the signage elf on duty.
The popular, homegrown, peace, love, and music event is a non-profit fundraiser for our beloved Topanga Community Center (TCC), a unique, privately funded public community space. Most appreciated support always comes from many generous sponsors and local businesses. Thanks to them and the hardworking TCC Board and volunteers for bringing our communal celebration back, albeit with changes. This yearâs festivities were shortened to two days instead of three, tickets were available only online, the intimate, indoor Corral Stage was not up and running, and the general attendance was at a kinder and gentler capacity.
What remained delightfully unchanged was the enthusiasm at the Memorial Day Parade lining up at Pine Tree Circle. Sure enough, early Monday morning an eclectic gathering of folks, floats, horses, dogs from Great Dane to Dachshund, flying pigs, Boy Scouts, Firefighters handing out red kid-size helmets, skateboarders, and fairy-winged creatures, all blended together in our own Topanga spin art, dusted with a smattering of glitter floating through the May air.
The floats, designed by local families, organizations, schools, and businesses seemed especially creative and colorful this year. It must have been difficult to choose the winners but awards were given to Captain Morganâs Magical Pirate Ship; the beautiful Topanga Elementary Schoolâs Mermaid Butterfly float driven by Bill Buerge; the powerful Topanga Peace Alliance with its timely messages; Theatricum Botanicumâs Royal presentation including Queen and Courtier; the artistic Fiesta offering; and the Topanga Love group spreading love. Familiar musicians played on the Topanga Lumber flatbed truck, blasting rock and roll to bring a special hometown, happy, Hippie feel to the morning, especially when three skateboarders performed tricky antics hanging to the truck by their toes and each other. Gidgetâs Flower Power shop looked like an enchanted garden come alive, as did Gidget herself while offering her new Flower Power tea. The Manzanita School float was elegant in its simplicity, with a beautiful tree, no doubt grown by the positive energy of one Paul Astin, Director of the school, crowning the cab.
Photo by Kathie Gibboney
The Grand Marshals for 2022 were a worthy team deserving of the honor: Inara George, Jake Kasdan, Jed Levy and Kristina Rocco-Levy, heroes during the pandemic as they and volunteers delivered food and services to those in need.
The youthful voice of Inara shared, âI could never imagine a more beautiful, inclusive, eccentric and special childhood than the one I experienced in the Topanga community. Iâm grateful to still be part of it all.â
Bravo to all the Grand Marshals for their constant service to our community. Working together with TCC, Canyon Sages, and with help from committed volunteers, they delivered 17,000 meals to our Canyon Seniors and others in need during lockdown. Roccoâs Cucina is renown for being a longtime Topanga favorite and they were justly cheered by the crowd. The community will never forget what is now a model we could all follow in times of crisis. They never gave up or despaired. Another spectator favorite were our year-round local heroes, the firefighters from Station 69, an invaluable and appreciated resource in our dry, fire-prone Canyon.
Candy rained down from floats and children scattered to collect as many as they could. People lining the Boulevard waved, cheered and reveled in the feeling of being united in this special place on Memorial Day 2022.
At the paradeâs end, driving up to the Community House following a septic pumper truck (what could be more Topanga than that?), was like being part of the parade as families still lingered along the road aglow in fun and friendship, while children waved at anything, but especially the septic truck and finally at my old Audi boasting a flying pig antenna ball. It was glorious and we, shuttle-like, picked up several passengers along the way to the Fair, among them, two friendly ladies with children who are students at Topanga Elementary, and one of their husbands who was playing in the opening band, The Halleluiah Boys. Arriving at the fairgrounds,we were all inspired by the heartfelt singing of the National Anthem by Rebecca Hill, a young and gifted local girl with a mighty voice and appropriately dressed in tie dye.
Once there, it was truly Topanga Days! Game host and MC Adam Silbar was on the job and proudly announced, âThis is my twelfth year! Itâs great to be back.â
Another volunteer and high-profile personality, known only as Brody, kept events moving along, even talking me into entering the Animal
Impression contest, but alas, I was justly beaten by youthful Thalia Frost and her spot-on rendition of a crow. Music played from the main stage with the ever-smiling Tom Mitchell on the sound system. Edison Park and his Black Belts presented an amazing Tae Kwon Do demonstration as the young groupsâ discipline and grace defied gravity. Nonie Shore, hardworking TCC V P of Fundraising and Events and proud mother, beamed at her Black Belt daughter, Sam Shore. The Limbo contest was fun for all ages. Booths sold festive clothing, jewelry, and flower crowns. Jeanne Mitchell offered recycled denim designs, including cool Topanga pillows.
The ball field filled up, people danced in front of the stage. It was odd not to see it packed but sort of Topanga Days-lite, which made for no lines when ordering beer and wine. Bubbles bursting in air, hula hoops going âround, peace and love everywhere. Howard, on security duty, said there were no problems either day, adding with a big smile, âNo troubles.â
And so it was with children roaming free, some just learning to walk, some running happy, some deliciously at home licking a snow cone, the music played on and for just awhile, people smiled to themselves and to each other and there were no troubles.